It is an important question within the SEO world..."What is a #1 Google rank worth, compared to the #2 spot or #3 spot?". 

The purpose of this question is to really understand what the business value is for a website that ranks at a certain point in the search engines.

It's easily assumed that the higher someone ranks in the search engines, the better, but what are the specific statistics. Many folks utilizing search engine marketing, specifically SEO, for their businesses are looking to understand the value of moving up from spot #6 to spot #3. Here is a pie chart that describes the traffic distribution by Google ranking:

As you can see, here is the breakdown of traffic percentages by Google rank:

  • Ranked #1 - 42%
  • Ranked #2 - 12%
  • Ranked #3 - 9%
  • Ranked #4 - 6%
  • Ranked #5 - 5%
  • Ranked #6 - 4%
  • Ranked #7 - 3%
  • Ranked #8 - 3%
  • Ranked #9 - 3%
  • Ranked #10 - 3%
  • Page 2 - 10% (average of 1% per listing on page 2)

So, what we see is that 90% of searches don't navigate past Page 1! This is why the goal is always to reach Page 1 and climb it as much as possible. This, of course, depends on the competitive landscape (aka how many other websites are competing for ranking in the search engines) for the target keyword terms of a site. The ultimate goal is to use resources as efficiently as possible and target keywords that have the least amount of competition but that drive the most quality traffic.

Let's give some numbers to this equation...if there are 10,000 people searching for a specific term, 4,200 of those searchers will click-through on the #1 listing...1,200 will click-through on the 2nd listing...900 on the 3rd and so forth. The difference between the 4th rank and the 1st is 3,600 visitors. That's a big difference!

The Catch

Now, let's keep in mind that these numbers are a bit imperfect considering the different ways users search. Each different way a person searches provides a different distribution of click-throughs on search results. There are 3 main types of internet search classifications:

  • Navigational - wants to find a specific site (e.g. Spotify)
  • Informational - looking for specific information (e.g. causes for the common cold)
  • Transactional - wants to perform a web-mediated activity (e.g. "buy blue suede shoes online")

Besides these different types of searches, the search engine results pages are also providing a multitude of different types of results, including videos, local maps, product search, etc., which can skew the results a bit. This just shows why it is a good idea to optimize for all the different channels (e.g. Google Places, Google Merchant Center, etc).

To learn more, check out this reference post by Aaron Wall at SEOBook - Google Keyword Click Data by Search Ranking Position